Pitcher C.J. Wilson is the Angels’ representative to the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, and he spoke at length about Ryan Braun‘s 65-game suspension and apology. Here’s the full transcript of his comments:
Your thoughts on today’s news?
As a player, the ultimate thing for us is we want the competition to be level. We want a level playing field. The joint drug agreement is in place to protect the integrity of the game, for the players and the fans, not just the fans and not just the owners. It’s for the whole game. We’ve kind of turned a corner in the industry where it’s not a privacy issue anymore. For a long time guys didn’t want their privacy violated. Now it’s more about the integrity of the game. It’s frustrating to know that there are people who have played on performance enhancing substances against us. Whether it was this year, last year, couple years ago — Even the guys who got caught, it’s not like they got tested the day that they started doing it, so I feel like this is the first domino to fall. Obviously there’s a big cloud with the Biogenesis thing over the game right now. Hopefully we can get past this and move on as soon as possible. Hopefully whatever actions happen swiftly, that way we don’t have to complain about it.
Is Braun’s apology a good thing?
He’s got a whole team of advisors I’m sure, based on his financial standing and his standing int he game as a superstar player. It’s a big downer to have a guy that’s an MVP have this kind of tag follow him because you obviously want to root for guys all the time to do well, but this is the punishment that’s necessary for the crime, I guess.
Do you expect other dominoes to fall?
It seems like they will just because of the nature of the investigation. Ever since the Mitchell Report came out, there’s been a whole different kind of stigma toward it. For a lot of the guys who are older, they didn’t – the guys that were in the big leagues 10 years ago or whatever – they didn’t go through the, I was drafted a certain amount of time ago, and other guys in here, where we’ve been tested the whole way through the system. We’ve been tested through the minors, through the majors,everything. There’s a guy in a blue shirt here today. He’s in the bathroom. He’s testing someone today. We’re just sort of used to it. It’s weird. It’s part of the game. It’s just like any other major sport, you want to have the sport clean. The guys that are violating it (the joint drug agreement), you hope they get caught as a player because they’re playing against you.
Imagine if you’re a fringe prospect and you get sent down because a guy that was cheating hits a homer off you. That’s the worst case scenario right? That’s what we’re trying to avoid with the testing program and the discipline.
What are players’ attitudes when you talk about PED users?
Nobody wants anybody to do performance enhancing drugs. Group talk, when we sit around and talk about it, those breaks when we’re all sitting around the clubhouse, that’s what people say. ‘Good, get it over with, get this guy a suspension and then move on.’ It’s annoying to have to answer questions about it all the time. It’s annoying to have fans say things all the time. It’d be great if we could just get out of the specter. One thing I’ve said this whole time is, it’s really an ethics issue. Your’e policing the moral fiber of cheating, which is something embedded in — people always think they’re more sophisticated, the rules don’t apply to them, they can get away with things — eventually you get caught. And this is what’s happening.
Does this hurt players’ credibility?
It reflects more poorly on him than it does anyone else, because he’s the one who did test — there was the whole test and appeal — the dropped punishment, whatever. Some people are going to think it’s a vindictive thing because he got away with it, or whatever, but the reality is that if there’s proof on you doing it and you get caught, then you deserve to get caught. You can say whatever you want in the meantime. I think we’ve all had a friend or a co-worker or a somebody in a relationship that was dishonest with you and you know it, and eventually you find out. Then something happens. But until you have the right amount of proof or whatever, you can’t penalize somebody.
There’s always going to be speculation about all sorts of stuff, but suspicion is something that we can’t really police. We just have to go out there and play. You know our schedule. We’re here 8 or 10 hours a day, we’re here to play baseball. That’s what we want to do and the guys that are cheating or whatever are taking something away from the other players. They’re lying to the fans, they’re lying to their teammates, they’re lying to their GMs, their owners, and they’re going to get caught. That’s the whole point. We get drug tested all the time. I have to think there’s less people slipping through the cracks than there were. Even when they did the survey in 03, 04, whatever it was, like 5 or 6 percent of the guys tested positive. So it’s not a huge amount of guys that are doing it, but there’s always going to be one dummy who thinks he can get away with it, or there’s going to be a guy that accidentally takes something because he bought it over the counter —
but ignorance is not a good policy either. You can’t plead ignorance because we have to be responsible. We’re professional athletes. We’re making enough money that we can take a step and look at something and say, ‘maybe I should take a look at what this is and send it off.’ And there’s people you can send it off to. They can say, ‘this is clean, you can take it,’ or ‘this is not clean, you can’t take it.”
How hard do you think it’ll be for Braun to face his teammates after this?
Well, it’s not going to be until spring training next year, so there’s no need to worry about it.
Do you like the current system for penalties?
It depends. There’s so many more intricate things at play. Like if you look at A-Rod’s contract, it’s tapered financially so if you took 50 games this year versus four years from now, would it affect him when it is? That’s a whole other element. A player could say, ‘I’m making less this year, so I’ll take it now.’ I just hope players get punished.
This is the rest of the season, so it’s like 65 or 70 games. That’s significant. That’s a big penalty, especially because it’s a non-analytical positive. It’s an evidence-based thing, but it’s not the same thing. Nobody called me and said ‘this is how the thing went’ I’m finding out the same time you guys did, 10 minutes ago. It’s a big story and a big deal. Maybe more details will come out. I don’t really know what they had on him to suspend him the rest of the year. This is all speculation.
Were you frustrated after yesterday’s game, getting shut out by Bartolo Colon, who’s been connected to Biogenesis?
Captain Obvious, nice to meet you. That’s my answer.